Players Feel Sense Of Urgency As Camp Opens

Posted Jul 28, 2011

Chiefs looking to make notable progress in shrunken training camp window

ST. JOSEPH, MO – The positive is that the Chiefs face a situation no different than any NFL franchise. The negative is that the Chiefs face the same situation as every NFL franchise.

The message from Chiefs players as they checked into their dormitory at Missouri Western State University mirrored that of any NFL camp across the country. Football season is here and there’s only a small window of opportunity to make up for lost time.

“I mean it will be fast, yea I think it’s going to be fast,” OLB Andy Studebaker predicted as he checked into Chiefs camp Thursday afternoon. “We don’t have a ton of time here, I think three weeks, we’ve got a game in two weeks, there’s going to be a lot of stuff that we’ve got to learn but carved out of that no two-a-days thing is a lot of meeting times, chances to get better, chances to do walkthroughs and teach.”

Two-a-days as players used to know them are gone. They’ll now be condensed to a morning walk-thru, void of pads and helmets, followed by a full-padded workout in the afternoon. That format won’t come into play until Monday.

The Chiefs are permitted to hold just three on-field sessions over the first three days of camp. Camp’s opening weekend will be treated much like OTAs.

The new Collective Bargaining Agreement also keeps all veteran free agents off the field until the league calendar officially rolls to 2011 on August 4th.

“We have to take advantage of this small time that we have,” said QB Matt Cassel.

Outside of Cassel leading a players-only mini-camp in June, Chiefs teammates had limited opportunity to gather as a group for much of the five-month lockout. Thursday’s team meeting marked the first time the Chiefs had been together as an entire unit since the day following January’s AFC Wild Card loss to Baltimore.

“When we left we took a lot of stuff that we had, some scripts and stuff and stuff like that from last year,” TE Tony Moeaki said. “On offense I know a lot of the guys were really familiar with the offense and familiar with the coaches, with Coach Muir and Coach Carthon and Todd, and we have Coach Zorn who I think is going to fit in perfectly in what we’re trying to do.”

Maintaining offensive continuity despite the departure of offensive coordinator Charlie Weis was an off-season priority after many of Kansas City’s play-makers enjoyed career-years in 2010. The promotion offensive line coach Bill Muir to offensive coordinator helped keep the offense familiar to players upon their return.

Playbooks were distributed Thursday evening. For many, it was their first look at the 2011 edition.

“We have a good core of guys who are coming back and a great coaching staff, much which has not change,” said Cassel. “With the hiring of Coach Muir I don’t see much of our offense changing, which is great from a terminology standpoint for a lot of guys because we already know that terminology and are familiar with our personnel.”

Defensively, the majority of Kansas City’s regular starters return for 2011 and are expected to take part in Friday’s practice. Exceptions include Mike Vrabel, who retired earlier this summer, Tamba Hali and unrestricted free agent Ron Edwards.

After receiving the franchise tag in February, Hali must first sign his franchise tender before joining camp. Carolina has reportedly agreed to terms of a contract with Edwards, ending his five-year tenure in Kansas City.

The club’s 90-man training camp roster is approximately just 2/3 complete, but with a number of returning starters already under contract the Chiefs sit in a nice position to make notable progress early in camp. It’s just going to take a focused start.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do starting on page one of the playbook obviously, maybe we wouldn’t have had to do that in a normal year, but it is what it is, the playing field’s level, and we just go from there,” Studebaker said.

The first practice of 2011 begins Friday at 3:30 PM.

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